Florida feels like perhaps the most unpredictable team in the SEC this year, and certainly the most unpredictable of the teams that can be considered credible conference title contenders. So how can I end up predicting them to finish in a narrow, three-game range? That's not just a rhetorical question -- it's one I actually found myself asking a few moments ago.
First, the unpredictability. Florida suffered an injury report last season worthy of the Alamo. Some of those players have now been lost permanently to graduation, but others will be coming back. Jeff Driskel will be back to lead the offense, even though he's never quite capitalized on all the potential that's been attributed to him. The offense is unlikely to go through a second season of catatonic production levels.
And there's Will Muschamp. Like Year2, I'm not quite sure I have a good fix on what to think of Muschamp. Is he a one of a long line of great defensive coordinators who just didn't cut it as a head coach? Or is he the kind of guy Florida can build a program around, who just happens to have had terrible luck in what should have been his best season yet? I don't know. If you're the steady leader of an SEC team, you don't lose to an FCS team, regardless of how many injuries you've had. Muschamp has now been through a transitional year, a great year and a terrible year. If you're comfortable making a decision based on that sample size, have at it. But I'm not.
The predictability comes from this: The likelihood of Florida losing any of the three non-Florida State non-conference games, particularly the FCS game for a second straight year, is relatively low. Throw in Kentucky and you're already at four wins. The Gators go to Vanderbilt, but the Commodores are likely to take a step back this year. Missouri will also be a little bit worse this year and has to go to Gainesville. The trip to Tennessee could be tricky, but it seems like a relatively safe win. There's your seven.
On the other side: Getting to more than 10 requires Florida to go at least 4-1 among their games at Alabama, vs. LSU, vs. Georgia, vs. South Carolina and at Florida State. There aren't a lot of teams in the country that could pull off that feat, whether the head coach is Will Muschamp or Steve Spurrier. Of course, the gap between 7-5 and 10-2 also happens to include scenarios where Will Muschamp will and won't return to lead Florida in 2015. So it probably feels a lot less stable than he would like it to be.
|Place: 3rd in the SEC East
Record: 8-4, 5-3 SEC
Could be: 7-5 to 10-2
Best chance for an upset: LSU
|8.30.14 | IDAHO | WIN|
|9.6.14 | EASTERN MICHIGAN | WIN|
|9.13.14 | KENTUCKY | WIN|
|9.20.14 | at ALABAMA | LOSS|
|10.4.14 | at TENNESSEE | WIN|
|10.11.14 | LSU | LOSS
|10.18.14 | MISSOURI | WIN|
|11.1.14 | GEORGIA | WIN
|11.8.14 | at VANDERBILT | WIN|
|11.15.14 | SOUTH CAROLINA | LOSS
|11.22.14 | EASTERN KENTUCKY | WIN|
|11.28.14 | at FLORIDA STATE | LOSS|